Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.
No one expected them to be heroes... Least of all, them.
This fantasy trilogy was among the first I read and holds a special place in my heart. I've tried to put aside any nostalgic feelings I have for it however to deliver an even-handed review. I have decided to review this as one novel as well due to the fact that it is mostly sold as a collected volume these days.
Readers that have played RPG games, especially Dungeons & Dragons, will find the tone and pacing of this story very comfortable. Those that have read mostly non-RPG based fantasy and have never played, may find that same structure a bit odd. The story is a classic good vs. evil saga, but the characters rate everywhere in between. Many a player will be want to place 'alignments' on the characters within, mentally assigning Neutral Evil, Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, etc. to the various members of the adventuring party. Non-players may simply find it refreshing that in a tale of black vs. white, shades of gray are layers within it.
Hickman and Weis worked closely in developing the game world their Dragonlance series was based in and as a result, the fantasy world of Krynn became one of the more unique settings to role-play in. The initial modules designed for the game are the basis for this trilogy and a group of adventurers, reuniting after a set amount of years for a reunion of sorts, our characters. Though familiar with each other, much has changed since last they adventured together and as they are drawn into a new saga they have to learn how to work together all over again. The characterization is the strongest thing going for the book, with each character going through their own struggles and plotting their own course through this world.
Due to the story being based upon a game world, one might expect the magic system to be more open than you normally see in some fantasy. Where this may be true in many other Dungeons & Dragons based stories, especially those set in Forgotten Realms, Weis and Hickman pulled back the reach of magic and put some unique twists on it compared to most gaming magic systems. The power of a wizards magic is tied closely with the three moons of Krynn, the Gods play their role, even if in an indirect way and the magic itself manages to stay more rare and mysterious than in many other RPG based novels. Though you can still expect to see all sorts of magical effects as well as artifacts throughout the story, the authors manage to take an often over-powered system and tone it down to work well for story telling.
Chronicles can be a fun read for those not turned off by the obvious hooks that come from being based upon RPG modules. Love-it or hate-it, just don't make the mistake some do in assuming these stories are little more than fan-fic because they are based upon RPG modules. Though the story plays at being high fantasy and comes close in scope, it's easier to approach the book expecting more of an action adventure style story. It may not be for everyone, but readers that enjoy a character driven book, set in an interesting world should enjoy the read.